Ashby's has been in existence since 1882 and has come through five generations of the Ashby family. The business was started that year by the late J. W. Ashby and initially was situated on Main Street in the site where Cox Auto Company later located. This is the approximate present location of Arkansas Radiation Oncology Center.
Ashby, a native Georgian, the son of John and Rebecca Ashby, grew up on a farm and learned the carpenter and blacksmith trades. After the Civil War broke out, Ashby enlisted, fighting for the South from 1862 until his parole at Greensboro, N. C., on April 26, 1865. He returned to take care of his mother and her family, then living in north Louisiana, and remained with his mother until her second marriage. In 1868 he moved to Arkansas and married the former Mary Scott. He farmed for 13 years, until moving to Benton in 1882, the year he built a home, opened a general merchandise store and started the undertaker's business.